Going against Indonesia’s ban on Muslims practicing yoga, India’s well-known Islamic seminary says there is nothing wrong with any exercise done for health reasons.
Clerics at the highly revered seminary in Deoband town in Uttar Pradesh said that yoga was fine as long as no non-Islamic religious rituals were involved.
“Islam does not prohibit anyone from practicing yoga or any other kind of physical exercise. Only thing is that with what belief you are doing it... If you are doing it for health reasons, there is absolutely no problem in practicing yoga or any other exercise,” said Qari Usman, an expert on Hadith at Darul Uloom.
“In fact the Prophet had laid stress on people leading a healthy life. Historically there have been traditions of different kinds of exercises in Muslim civilizations,” added Usman, also a former pro-vice chancellor of the seminary that attracts thousands of students mainly from India.
Yoga guru Swami Ramdev has suggested that non-Hindus can chant Allah in place of Om while doing yoga.
Qari Usman reacted to this: “Exercises are done for physical fitness, why include religious mantras?”
India is home to about 140 million Muslims — the third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan.
Indonesia’s Ulema Council also known as MUI met on Saturday and issued a 'fatwa' asking Muslims to stop practising yoga saying it included chanting of Hindu mantras.
The Indonesian fatwa follows a similar ban imposed by Malaysia’s top Islamic body in November.
The ban, which follows a similar edict in Malaysia, was passed after investigators visited private yoga classes across the country.